February 9, 2012
Boone & Crockett Reports Trophy Whitetails Numbers Up 400% Since 1980
Scott Brassfield of Brassfield Taxidermy works on one of the record number of trophy deer submitted to his shop in 2011.
MISSOULA, MT -Trophy whitetail entries from 2011 hunting seasons are beginning to pour into Boone and Crockett Club headquarters. But while the sporting world waits to see which states are hot-or not-producers of giant bucks, North America's overall robust trend in whitetail entries is a story for all conservationists to celebrate.
B&C historical records show that trophy whitetails are up 400 percent over the past 30 years.
"It's worth remembering where America's favorite big-game species stood not so long ago-at the brink of extinction," said Ben Wallace, Club president. "In 1900, less than 500,000 whitetails remained. But habitat programs, research, science-based management, regulations and enforcement, all led and funded by hunters, brought this game animal back to extraordinary levels. Today there are more than 32 million whitetails!"
The Boone and Crockett system of scoring big-game trophies originated in 1906 as a means of recording details on species thought to be disappearing. Over time, these records evolved as an effective way to track the success or failure of conservation efforts. To qualify for Boone & Crockett recognition, a typical white tail deer must net score at least 170 inches, while a non-typical deer must net score 195 inches to be recognized.
Scott Brassfield of Brassfield Taxidermy in Memphis agreed that trophy numbers definitely are on the rise.
"Not only did I have a record number of deer mounts come in this season, but the overall quality definitely is improving," said Scott. "I'd say on average most of the deer we were seeing years ago would average around 130 inches, while today I'd say that number is closer to 150 inches."
As North America's whitetail herd has grown, numbers of big bucks also have risen.
For the period 1980-1985, hunters entered 617 trophy whitetails into Boone and Crockett records.
For the period 2005-2010, the total jumped to 3,090, an increase of 400 percent.
During this 30-year span, many states and provinces saw percentage gains much greater than the continental average. For example, trophy whitetail entries from Wisconsin have risen 857 percent. In Illinois, the increase is 896 percent. Ontario went from a single entry to a whopping 41-a 4,000 percent gain.
Missouri ranked fifth on the list for the recording period of 2005-2010, with 214 entries, compared to 25 entries back in 1980-1985. That trailed Wisconsin (383 entries), Illinois (299), Iowa (224) and Ohio (215).
"I believe there are a lot of factors that are playing into this," said Brassfield. "Missouri's four-point antler restriction seems to be working. Overall I'd say hunters are just being more selective, holding out for the bigger deer, which means they are letting the younger deer go and grow."
The Memphis taxidermist added that the antler size increase directly correlates with the rise in the number of mature deer being brought into his shop.
"What I am seeing are far more 4 1/2 and 5 1/2 year old deer and a lot fewer 2 1/2 year olds," Brassfield stated. "Boone and Crockett has some pretty high standards, but we've had our fair share come through the doors over the past few years and we expect to see more if the management trends continue."
Six states and provinces had zero entries in 1980-1985. For 2005-2010, they combined for 48.
Boone and Crockett offers two premier ways to trace and detail historic conservation developments, not just with whitetails but many other species as well.
A book, "Records of North American Big Game," offers detailed tabular listings for trophies in 38 different categories of game. Each entry includes the all-time entry score, date harvested, location of kill, hunter and owner names, and selected measurements. At 768 pages, the book retails for $49.95.
A searchable online database, called "Trophy Search," is another exceptional resource. By buying an annual subscription, users can sort B&C archival data in infinite ways to identify national as well as local trends. An annual subscription is $50.
Boone and Crockett Club Associates receive discounts on both items. Order online at www.boone-crockett.org or by calling 888-840-4868.
Founded by Theodore Roosevelt in 1887, the Boone and Crockett Club promotes guardianship and visionary management of big game and associated wildlife in North America. The Club maintains the highest standards of fair-chase sportsmanship and habitat stewardship. Member accomplishments include enlarging and protecting Yellowstone and establishing Glacier and Denali national parks, founding the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service and National Wildlife Refuge System, fostering the Pittman-Robertson and Lacey Acts, creating the Federal Duck Stamp program, and developing the cornerstones of modern game laws. The Boone and Crockett Club is headquartered in Missoula, MT. For details, visit www.boone-crockett.org.